The Literary Life

Home » Comedy » On this Day in History: Farquhar’s The Beaux’ Stratagem First Performed

On this Day in History: Farquhar’s The Beaux’ Stratagem First Performed

Previous Posts

March 2017
S M T W T F S
« Feb   Apr »
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,616 other followers

beaux-stratagem-1

Christopher Innvar, Ian Bedford, and Veanne Cox in the 2006 production of The Beaux’ Stratagem at The Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. (© Carol Rosegg)

On this day in history, March 8, 1707, British playwright George Farquhar’s The Beaux’ Stratagem made its debut in London at the Theatre Royal in the Haymarket. This theatre is usually simply called The Haymarket.

George Farquhar (1678-1707) began his career in the theatre as an actor until he accidentally wounded a fellow actor. Abandoning acting, he set out to write for the London stage. His wife tricked him into marriage by pretending to be an heiress. Farquhar forgave her and the marriage was evidently happy. His two plays were The Recruiting Officer (1706) and our play today. Both plays were successful, yet Farquhar nevertheless died at age 30 in poverty as The Beaux’s Stratagem made its initial run.

If you haven’t read or seen performed this classic play in awhile, here is a simple summary of its complex plot by Martin S. Day: “Aimwell and Archer are the beaux, and their stratagem is to recoup their lost fortunes by marrying rich country girls near Litchfield by means of a complicated imposture. Archer weds Dorinda, daughter of Lady Bountiful. Aimwell almost seduces Mrs. Sullen, but she is saved because a gang of thieves breaks into the house. The heroes subdue the ransackers, and Mrs. Sullen and her churlish husband agree to divorce. Aimwell is to be her next husband.”

Here a few notes I once published in an essay for Salem Press years ago: Unlike most Restoration comedies of manners, The Beaux’ Stratagem is set in the country instead of London. As a result of the country setting emphasis is placed on low characters—innkeepers, servants, and highwaymen—instead of fashionable society. Archer and Aimwell, however, are newly arrived from the city and much of the play’s force derives from the contrast of country life versus city life. The two settings of the play, the inn and Lady Bountiful’s house reflect this conflict.

An inn in Litchfield is a way station for travelers coming and going from London to the country. As such it is utterly corrupt. At the inn a dishonest highwaymen plot to commit crimes with the complicity of a crooked innkeeper who even tries to corrupt his daughter for money. At the inn beaux from London plot stratagems. It is the forces from the inn that invade Lady Bountiful’s house in an attempt to destroy it.

In contrast to the world of the inn, Lady Bountiful’s house represents the simple virtues and charity of the best of the country. At Lady Bountiful’s house benevolence and concern for others dominate. Here the sick are healed and the corrupt are converted to virtue. This world is invaded by forces from the corrupt town by means of the highwaymen from the inn and by means of the beaux from the city. The robbers attempt to steal material goods while the beaux attempt to steal female virtue as well as money in Dorinda’s fortune. These corrupt forces eventually are defeated or neutralized while the country values of Lady Bountiful dominate at last.

Paul Varner

Follow The Literary Life blog and re-blog on social media, please.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog Stats

  • 4,029 hits
Follow The Literary Life on WordPress.com

Goodreads

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Twitter

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,616 other followers

Pen and Pension

Immerse yourself in Georgian and Regency England

asidenotes

Renaissance drama: then, now & sometimes in between

Book Geeks Anonymous

I cannot live without books. - Thomas Jefferson

The Scene

Radical Poetics at the Zig Zag Edges

The Hoarding

On 19th-Century Literary Scholarship

cancer killing recipe

Just another WordPress.com site

MUDD iN YOUR FACE

from boredom to creativity

Proof Perfectly

Editing - Copywriting - Advice

deconstructingdoctor.com

a peek behind the curtain

The Long Victorian - c.1789 - 1914

The literary world of the Long Nineteenth Century, c.1789 - 1914

Under the Light of Western Skies

Intellectual Comfort from the American West

The Literary Counsellor

Mainly a book blog, with a bit of life thrown in for good measure.

A Poet's Double Life

For poets working outside the literary world.

Rosemary's Blog

A window into my world

Lizzy's Literary Life

Celebrating the pleasures of a 21st century bookworm

%d bloggers like this: